Paint Schoodic

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday Morning Art School: How to make time to make art


Having trouble finding time to get anything done? We all are.

Commit to working with others, either in a class, a group, or a workshop. It will jumpstart your process.
These days, I’m turning over my guest room as fast as the Starlight Motel down the street is turning over theirs. Not well, I might add; my brother tells me I’m in danger of losing my five-star rating. Even though I strongly discourage guests in the high season, there are still people whom I want to see.

Not having enough time to make art isn’t a unique problem. It’s something I hear from other artists in every station of life. Jobs, children, parents, spouses or homes aren’t time-killers; they’re the very fabric of our lives. Still, too often we go to bed realizing we’ve done no actual artwork that day.

Schedule studio time. If you work at the same time every day, you spend less mental energy waiting for inspiration to kick in—you just dive in and do it. That’s more than a mental trick. Your body and mind crave routine. Working on art at the same time every day makes it easier to transition into the flow zone.

Take a class. They’re fun, social, advance your skills, and—just like joining the gym—you have money riding on your involvement.

Keep the set-up to a minimum. I keep my palettes in the freezer so I can paint in small increments. I sometimes work in watercolor when I don’t have time to set up in oils. I draw when I can’t do either.

I've been recording the passing scene in sketchbooks forever. I wasn't always kind.
Put down your cell phone and pick up your sketchbook. Draw in meetings, classes and church—it won't lower your comprehension much. I’ve written about the importance of sketching many times; it separates good artists from mediocre ones.

Make work a habit. Set aside a half hour a day and use it to make some kind of art. You really can cement a habit by doing it for a month.
A small amount of time with a sketchbook can yield wonderful results.

Cut out the screen time. Even with the decline in TV watching, Americans average about eleven hours a day in front of some kind of screen. You might find that all the time you need to make art can be found just by deleting the Facebook app. (Just be sure to subscribe to this blog before you do it! The sign up box is at the top right.)

Make a studio. If you don’t have a room to dedicate to art, make a studio in a corner of your bedroom or some other underutilized space. Having a dedicated, organized work space cuts down on the set-up time each time you want to work.

Find a corner somewhere where you can leave your project up.
Make art a social activity. Join a figure-drawing or plein air group. There’s accountability in committing to work with someone else.

Run away from home. Apply for a residency somewhere. Even a week of focused work, sans family, can be great for your development. I’ll be doing one at the Joseph Fiore Art Center this September.

The dreaded deadline. I hesitate to recommend this, even though the best way I know to chain myself to my easel is to commit work for a show. Yes, deadlines make you finish things. However, they’re corrosive to body and soul. Better to just develop good work practices.

Be patient with yourself
I had cancer at age 40. Since then health issues have played a much larger role in my life. I’m always infuriated by being sick, because I like to keep busy. But if you’ve just had a baby or are recovering from pneumonia, you’re not going be efficient. Be patient. Just as you have to walk a little farther every day to regain fitness, you need to slowly reform your work schedule.

I’ve got one more workshop available this summer. Join me for Sea and Sky at Schoodic, August 5-10. We’re strictly limited to twelve, but there are still seats open.

1 comment:

DEL said...

Thank you. Just what I needed. Though I have most of these great habit makers in my back pack the one about health is the kicker. Broke my hip in January.Still trying to find the rhythm of habit. So I am working on giving it takes time but working the exercises hard.